Rocky Reception: Residents raise concerns about proposed sand, gravel extraction site


Beaver Materials plans to go before the Noblesville Board of Zoning Appeals Sept. 5 to request a variance of land use to begin excavating sand and gravel from a site west of Cherry Tree Road and north of 161st Street. But some area residents aren’t happy.

A group of residents who live near the proposed site have created a petition to present to the zoning appeals board, citing several complaints about the project.

According to the petition, some residents are concerned the project will decrease property value; set a precedent for other companies wanting to do work outside of neighborhoods; increase traffic; deteriorate roads; contaminate drinking water; emit air pollution and dust that might hurt wildlife; and create noise.

Beaver Materials promised in its application that the project “won’t be injurious to the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community.” Ali Alvey from Beaver Materials stated in an email to Current that multiple mines from other companies have been operating near neighborhoods, such as Lochaven, Sycamore Farm, Kingswood, Wook Creek, Lake Forest and Stonewick.

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Rendering of the Beaver Materials’ excavation proposal. (Rendering courtesy of Beaver Materials)

Pamela Sasse, a resident near the proposed site, said she is “adamantly opposed” to the proposal.

Sasse said Beaver Materials does not know what negative outcomes could occur, specifically with lung damage, silicosis and kidney, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. She also said the site is surrounded by wetlands and is a protected drinking water area.

“This project, if passed … is deplorable,” Sasse said. “This land was designated originally to be residential, and to change (it) into a gravel pit that affects so many homeowners negatively is just wrong. You are supposed to look after the best interests of the citizens you represent.”

Kurt Beard, another area resident, said he has been in communication with Beaver Materials and also opposes the project. But he said protesting the proposal without maintaining communication with the company could give residents an even smaller voice in the future if the proposal is approved.

Beard said he doesn’t know enough about gravel extraction to know whether Beaver Materials’ safety promises are accurate.

“The ‘let’s find out’ approach is awful(ly) tough to swallow because once we find out, there’s no going back,” Beard said.

Alvey stated in an email that the company will use a water truck to wet the ground as needed while operations are underway to mitigate the potential for dust. She stated no gravel processing will occur on-site, such as blasting, crushing or wet processing. She stated that the company follows city and county ordinances and is regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which monitors air, land and water quality.

Moreover, Alvey stated that the company has no evidence that the project would negatively impact property values.

Sam Carpenter, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, stated in an email that the project would diminish the aesthetic value of the area and could affect tourism, among other concerns. She also worries about the number of buffers for the project and open pits interacting with surface and groundwater, which could alter water cycle flows and promote erosion, sedimentation and possibly increase the risk of water contamination. Alvey stated Carpenter may not be familiar with all details of the request.

“The wetland and woodland areas in Indiana are providing important natural infrastructure services for clean water and air, and erosion and flood control,” Carpenter stated. “Zoning commissioners and residents need to be mindful of how new development may strain the natural services these areas provide.

The Noblesville Board of Zoning Appeals will vote on Beaver Materials’ new request during its next meeting, which is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at City Hall.

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A sign protesters of the proposal put up. (Photo by Pamela Sasse)

Previous proposal rejected

In June 2022, Beaver Materials petitioned the Noblesville City Council to expand Potter’s Bridge Park by approximately 50 acres for a gravel extraction project. The 2022 proposal came after Beaver Materials made a similar request in 2020 but withdrew it after the city’s plan commission couldn’t agree whether to send the proposal to the city council with a favorable recommendation.

Some residents and the Hoosier Environmental Council remonstrated against the proposal, which was rejected by the Noblesville City Council on June 28, 2022.